Sitting in extraordinary session the House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly for reduction in presidential tenure here from six to four years, senatorial tenure from nine to six years, and representative tenure from six to four years, respectively pending concurrence by the Liberian Senate.
The Lower House has also voted for dual citizenship in Liberia, arguing that restriction of citizenship has yielded the country nothing, but backwardness and selfish style. The move for the reduction in presidential and legislative tenures is in line with propositions validated by citizens from across the country during a validation conference held in 2015 in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Among others, the Gbarnga conference validated proposition 25, to make Liberia a Christian State amidst strong opposition from Muslims here, but rejected dual citizenship. Currently, Liberia has a presidential tenure of six years with a constitutional provision to serve only two terms, while senators and representatives can serve for nine and six years respectively with no restriction on re-election, meaning lawmakers here could serve as many terms as they want once they continue to enjoy the confidence of their constituents.
But the lawmakers on Thursday, 17 November in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers argued that elected officials enjoy long tenure in office, many of them feel relaxed on the job, while the needs of the citizenry remain unsolved.
Article 27 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia reads,“( a) All persons who, on the coming into force of this Constitution were lawfully citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian citizens. (b) In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.
(c) The Legislature shall, adhering to the above standard, prescribe such other qualification criteria for the procedures by which naturalization may be obtained.” Article 50 states:“The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The president shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for a term of six years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections. No person shall serve as President for more than two terms.”
In March 2015 the Constitution Review Committee head by former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott at the Gbarnga conference approved series of propositions calling for amendment of the Constitution, among which was proposition 24 which calls for the Christianization of the State, but President Sirleaf and other sectors of the society, including the umbrella organization of Christians, the Liberian Council of Churches are opposed, citing the need to maintain religious harmony.
Meanwhile, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquayhas instructed Chief Clark Mildred Siryon to communicate with the Liberian Senate on the decision taken by plenary of the House of Representatives.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor